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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pass the popcorn...

I had a heard a lot of good things about the Hallmark movie depicting Lois Wilson’s life as the wife of Bill W, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. With a star like Wynona Rider playing Lois, I expected to be blown away by The Lois Wilson Story, When Love Is Not Enough. There I go with those expectations again!!

Wynona did a wonderful job portraying a woman dedicated to “standing by her man.” But, I was not even once drawn to tears or screamingly angry by any of the characters, situations or end result. It was interesting and informative. It was just something to watch when there’s nothing else on TV. I was disappointed.

I really think Hallmark missed the mark on this one. It could have been so much more. There was an opportunity to show exactly what it is like to be the caretaker of an end-stage alcoholic. Bill W was near death before he found his way to sobriety. But, I didn’t really get that from watching the movie. I simply saw Bill W not breathing and Lois telling him he was killing himself.

When I watch Grey’s Anatomy, I see blood and guts. When I watch Intervention, I see vomiting and filth. And that’s just on TV.  Movies have a much greater license to be realistic. I think I was missing that realism.

There were some good things about the movie. I liked the way Lois showed that Bill had shifted addictions from alcohol to alcoholics. She clearly portrayed something that often has befuddled many spouses. When the alcoholic finds sobriety, the spouse thinks everything will be “normal.” But, in fact, what often happens is the alcoholic swaps one addiction for another. It’s difficult to deal with. I can even remember asking Riley, “When will it be my turn?” just as Lois asked Bill. This in fact did hit home.

I also liked Lois’ mother’s death bed scene. Her mother advises her to make a life for herself. She states that Lois can stay with Bill, but still have her own life. That advice is something I have said over and over. Find your passion. Figure out who you are as an individual. Then, be true to who you are.

Another aspect that I liked was learning how Al-Anon actually came about. For some reason, I never saw it in quite that way. It almost started by accident. A hospitable Lois saw the spouses in their cars, waiting for their alcoholic husbands, and invited them into her home. What started with coffee and conversation ended up being Al-Anon. I appreciated the information and found it to be interesting.

Riley has read many books on how AA was formed and the journey of Bill W and Dr. Bob. He agreed that Bill W was, at one point, end-stage. He told me that, in his opinion, there are better movies out there that clearly depict end-stage. He suggested that I watch “Days of Wine and Roses.” I saw that movie, many, many years ago when it was first out. I remember almost none of it. I have ordered it and am eagerly waiting for it to arrive in my mailbox.

I’ve decided to watch the most popular movies on alcoholism and see which ones I think have the most accurate portrayal of end-stage and their caretakers. There really are a lot of good movies out there, such as… “Clean and Sober”; “When a Man Loves a Woman”; “Morning After” are just to name a few. But, even though I’ve seen them before, I don’t remember much of about them.

I’ve stocked up on popcorn and Milk Duds and I’m ready. I’ll review the movies in my blog. Please comment with your movie suggestions and I’ll watch them. This is going to be fun!


Syd said...

My Name is Bill W. is a good one to see. There is also Clean and Sober and Bad Santa. Lost Weekend is probably one of my favorites. I don't know that it shows the grittiness that you are looking for. I thought that the Hallmark movie got the point across. I really liked the book When Love is Not Enough--it is a good book about Lois's journey.

Anonymous said...

Leaving las vegas

jo said...

i am AMAZED i found this place. i knew i couldnt be the only one out here living with this, but no one believed me when i told em how my husband has gotten mentally.no dr will even see him as long as he is actively drinking. but im not the insane one! i was thinking i was and asking questions and doing searches all over to find answers. God bless this place, and you. i now am not alone! thank you...jo

Colleen said...

Lost weekend is a good one!
Can't forget Barfly.

Anonymous said...

Leaving Las Vegas is an excellent depiction of someone who will not ever, ever quit drinking and who, like Riley, has decided to prefer death though the main character is more proactive about drinking himself to death.

Chuck Gesing said...

The quote that sticks with me is from Leaving Las Vegas when Nicholas Cage says to Elizabeth Shue, "you can never ever ask me to stop drinking". That has stuck with me since seeing it years ago.